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Amazon’s Bezos Ain’t Hamlet

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | September 26th, 2018

To pee or not to pee—that is a question a worker needs to answer

The fact that the richest man in the world is screwing his workers around the world out of living wages while he makes $277 million a day is “Shakespearian” in drama and brings to mind the most revealing soliloquy ever written, Prince Hamlet’s ruminations about what kind of life he should lead and live: “To be or not to be—that is the question.” Jeff Bezos’s employees at Amazon and the Washington Post, however, have to answer this question in the unconditioned air in city rooms and distribution warehouses. While trying to keep up with their over-supervised prescribed workloads, their thoughts turn to bladder pressures and are faced with a monumental question; “To pee or not to pee- that is the question. Whether it is nobler to pee in a bottle while the boss makes an outrageous fortune--or to take a pee break in a dirty toilet 400 feet away, we must end the bladder-aches and pains somehow and continue to grunt and sweat under a weary life.” ….Well, you get the idea.

Since the world has great economic inequality and an excess of billionaires proliferating over the last half-century, psychologists, psychiatrists, and experienced bartenders have examined the personal qualities of the rich and infamous. Their conclusion: uncompromising greed has turned most billionaires into socio-psychopaths who have lost all empathy toward human beings. We presently have a world record 2,208 billionaires representing 67 countries, 165 more than 2017. Their average wealth is $4.1 billion, a record high, and total out at $9.1 trillion. The super-rich continue to get richer—and most continue to hoard. Melinda Gates says, “It’s not fair that we have so much wealth ( in the neighborhood of $100 billion) when billions of others have so little. And it’s not fair our wealth opens doors that are closed to most people.” Yes, that’s true, Melinda. Perhaps you should ask your husband Bill why he insisted that his computer programmers be considered private contractors so he wouldn’t have to pay them benefits! He tried that scam when he already had several billions. He lost the case with the IRS.

Three examples of the twisted pathologies of the rich

The Walton family of Wal-mart, currently totaling out at about $160 billion, is the richest family in the world. They don’t seem to care about their employees either. Economists have advised that “associates” at each Wal-mart store are paid so poorly that the American taxpayers pay an average of $1 million to cover the costs of food stamps, health care costs, and other government benefits employees at each Wal-mart store. They are eligible for those benefits because they are so far below poverty levels. This totals out to be about a $6 billion-a-year contribution to the Walton family’s bank accounts by taxpayers! If the four Walton children of Sam had real empathy for the undocumented and the poor who staff their stores, wouldn’t they insist that that their workers be paid living wages?

The pathology of Steve Jobs of Apple is another example. In a well-documented biography, Walter Isaacson details the life of the Silicon Valley artistic genius that was Jobs—and the fact he was a complete social and human-relationship moron. It’s a very fascinating read about the idiosyncrasies of the super-rich. When he was in his 20’s, Jobs fathered a child with his high school sweetheart. He paid so little attention to his daughter that he refused to support her even when he had made many millions. When his daughter Lisa was five, the mother sued Jobs for years of child support. He was forced to take a DNA test which proved he was the father. He told Time magazine that “28% of the male population of the United States could be the father!” For the first seven years of his daughter’s life he was almost entirely absent. After that he did visit her in a small house of the mother, but not on any regular schedule. She later moved in with him when she was a teenager. His treatment of her did not improve. Lisa sums up his attitude in a recent book. She recalls how he refused to have the heating in her room fixed and the dishwasher repaired so she didn’t have to wash dishes by hand. Although a multimillionaire at the time, he refused to pay for her first year at Harvard because of some slight he never named. Lisa got wealthy neighbors to pay for her Harvard fees. Jobs did not reimburse them until years later. Often because money requests from the mother enraged him, he limited the time Lisa could spend with her mother and insisted that his authority over her should not be questioned.

Bezos and Musk want to move to Mars, other than superrich like New Zealand

Almost a dozen Silicon Valley billionaires have bought 150-ton survival bunkers from Rising S Company in Texas and seven have already been buried in remote parts of New Zealand. Two more are on the way by land and sea. At the first sign of a revolution of the 99 Percent, nuclear war, a world-wide pandemic by a killer germ or virus, or other apocalypse, the owners will be on their way to survival bunkers by their private jets, leaving the country to us piss ants.

New Zealand is a perfect place for the super-rich, having only 4.8 million people surrounded by about 28 million sheep, and it has no enemies in the known world. But New Zealanders have gotten fed up with the rich buying precious property to hide in and have passed a law preventing the sale of private homes to “outsiders.” However, if a rich person “invests” $6.7 million in NZ businesses over three years, they can then buy a home! Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, has bought a 477-acre estate and home for $13.8 million and another home in Queenstown with a “safe” room. Safe rooms are bulletproof and have weapons, water, and provisions for several days.

Some of the super-wealthy have rather elaborate plans to escape the United States. A San Francisco billionaire hedge fund manager says his escape plans are all set. In his garage he has a motorcycle with a bag of guns on the handlebars. If the “apocalypse” comes, he will jump on his cycle so he can weave his way through heavy traffic to his private jet and take off for a secret landing strip in Nevada. A passenger jet big enough for four other billionaires and families sits in a hanger. When all are present, the jet will take off for New Zealand and the underground survival bunkers. Isn’t super wealth grand?

“Off we go, into the wild blue yonder……

Jeff Bezos, who has made his world-leading fortune 0f $168 billion selling everything from condoms to spruce Christmas trees, wants to make another fortune in space. Elon Musk, who has made his fortune selling rockets and rocketry, personal flame throwers, and electric cars, wants to build another business on Mars. Both have a serious malady of the superrich: the complete absence of a necessary component of a functioning society called empathy. Although Bezos makes about $60,000 every five seconds, thousands of Amazon employees, like the associates of Walton Wal-marts, do not make a living wage and are forced to rely on food stamps for food, government Medicaid for minimal health care, and public housing for living space. In fact, many of Wal-mart’s and Amazon’s employers are homeless and end up sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in cars. Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been a critic of Bezos’s attitude toward his workers for 20 years, says: “But it gets remarkably more ridiculous: Jeff Bezos has so much money that he says the only way he could possibly spend it all is on space travel.” Musk, who has a flair for the bizarre and has already rocketed one of his electric cars into space, wants to settle on Mars along with Bezos. As neither possesses the necessary bonding material called empathy, I assume neither will get lonely out in space.

Senator Sanders suggests a radical idea that both Musk and Bezos should adopt an economic plan to pay all their employees a living wage and improve the working conditions at all of the facilities and plants they operate. Sanders says: “In my view, a nation cannot survive morally or economically when so few have so much and so many have so little. Millions of people of people across this country struggle to put food on the table and are one paycheck away from economic devastation, and the wealthiest people have never had it so good.” The California super-rich are now forming their own private fire departments! Last year Amazon got a billion-dollar Trump tax cut, made $5.6 billion in profits—and did not pay a dime in federal income taxes. And the question today is: “How long will it take the 99 Percent to decide, hell no, they are not going to take it any longer and force the superrich to take their jets to New Zealand survival bunkers and their rockets to Mars?

Is your vote now worth a whole dollar?

As our One Percent hurtles around this planet in private jets seeking land to bury their survival bunkers on--or to find more secure tax havens on tiny islands so they can hoard more money, a few of their number actually want to leave this earth and start a colony on Mars. As both Bezos and Tesla treat their employees like animals imprisoned in factory farms, the 99 Percent would be happy to see them board their rockets. But the remaining One Percent have been very successful in exchanging American democracy for American plutocracy. Our closest relative the chimps have demonstrated more empathy and compassion than our plutocrats.

Back in 1980 conservative “gadfly” Paul Weyrich (way-rich!!!) told a group of conservative “Christians” that every person should not be allowed to vote. Weyrich then organized the conservative Heritage Foundation (now funded by the very rich Koch brothers at about $30 billion each!)) from tens of millions of dollars contributed by the One Percent which has now exchanged a free vote for a dollar a vote. Four years ago billionaire Tom Perkins suggested that the United States should be run like a corporation and that only those that pay federal income taxes should vote. His most famous line: “If you pay a million dollars in federal income taxes, you get a million votes.” This would eliminate millions of low-paid workers who might pay local and state taxes but not federal income taxes. This is now happening.

With all of that One Percent money flowing to Congress because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the plutocrats left on earth have bought state legislatures and Congresses that have actually installed one-dollar-one vote plans. The One Percent has purged voting rolls of many millions of poor voters, gerrymandered districts to diminish any thought of counting minority votes, restricted early voting, eliminated precincts, installed paperless voting practices, adopted restrictive voter-ID plans, and have gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was passed to improve minority voting. In the 2018 vote in about 50 days, pissant voters in 23 states will discover new ways that will make it harder to vote. We will see if Weyrich has been successful.

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